Cleaning Your Walls the Green Way

Photo: francescomucio/FlickrIt's a fact of life: interior walls tend to get dingy over time. No matter what color they are, streaks and stains start showing, mysterious scuff marks emerge, and you begin to feel like you're living in Murkville USA instead of a gorgeous clean home. Numerous commercial products are available for scrubbing down walls and restoring their sparkling clean looks, but many are both expensive and not very environmentally friendly -- not the kind of thing you want to be applying to your walls, especially if you have young children and pets who might be extra sensitive to chemical cleaners.

DIY green cleaning products

Fortunately, there's a much better alternative. In addition to commercial green cleaning products like Simple Green and others specifically designed for walls, you can just make your own. These DIY cleaners do the trick when it comes to lifting grime, and they're way less expensive than their commercial counterparts, so you can save big while you're also restoring your home's handsome looks.

By the way, another form of savings is embedded in washing your walls to remove grime: you won't be applying yet another layer of paint. Though some people prefer repainting to washing, there's no reason to pile on the paint if the existing coat is in good shape and you still like the color. (If you dislike the color, of course, you're definitely looking at a phone call to your Cleveland painting contractor for a new paint job -- but wash the walls first anyway, to help the paint go on more easily, reduce the risk of stains seeping through, and keep mold and mildew out of your walls)

So what are you waiting for?

Oh, right, a recipe.

Basic wall wash

One very basic wall wash uses 1 quart of warm water to 1/4 cup white vinegar, with 2 tablespoons of liquid soap. Before you start washing, brush and wipe down the walls to remove loose dust, spiderwebs, and other messes. Then use clean cloths to wash the walls, and rinse clean with more clean cloths dipped in warm water. Blot with dry cloths to get the drying process started. To prevent mold, plan to do this on a day when it's warm and you can open the windows for ventilation to dry the walls as quickly as possible.

Stubborn stain treatment

Stubborn stains? Good old baking soda is your friend. Make a baking soda and water paste, apply to stains, allow to dry, and brush it away. The baking soda should lift the stain, allowing you to wash as usual and then move on with your stain-free life!

Choose easy-care paint

If you're thinking about interior paint design as you prepare for repainting, be aware that semi-gloss, high-gloss, and eggshell finishes are much easier to clean and maintain than matte paints. While matte can provide a much better look in some cases, it's not a great idea for high traffic areas. Consider compromising with matte on the ceiling and an eggshell or semi-gloss for the walls.

Katie Marks writes for

Updated April 17, 2018.

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